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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/29/14 ~ Fall Color, Fat Trout, and Snow Coming

Autumn bliss at Lake Davis and perfect conditions is one of the most awesome experiences I've ever had since being on this big blue marble. Glassy water with just a ripple at times, and those explosive fall colors punching out like wildfire in the distance wrapping all around you, like the arms of your favorite sweetie, is something special. Days like these are so quiet, except for the tooting trumpets from the thousands of coots, and a call of a comfortable mallard hen, looking for her drake. Days like these are so good that if it were my last day on earth, I'd be quite content as I crossed the dimension into another world. Catching some large trout is just the bonus, and the older I get, the more I realize it's about the experience of the day. With every year flying by I truly can appreciate the simple things that Mother Earth and life in general provides us with, and those of us who can understand the big picture, lead a happier, fuller life. Beautiful surroundings in the mountains, and the company of loved ones and good friends keeps the smile on my face, and the sparkle in my eye. It is my everything.

The rainbows this year sure have added on some girth, and they too are putting on their fall colors with rosy red cheeks, and glowing lateral lines. I love fishing this time of year at the lake because it is such a simple game, a floating line, a standard 9 foot leader, with one fly, and fish in the skinny water. I love even more the subtle grab, where your line feels heavier, stretching, until a solid connection with electricity jolts you, and your heart starts to race with anticipation, and the excitement, of your new catch.

Finally some cold weather has moved in, and it has dropped air temperatures to freezing in the mornings. With ice on the boat cover before rolling out for another trip, it’s a good sign conditions are changing for the better, and this will really help for the bite to get stronger. Water temps have dipped a bit too, 49 in the morning rising to 55 in the late afternoon. I've noticed some changes in the trout’s behavior in the last few days; they're more concentrated in the upper water column 1-3 feet down, with more of them in the skinny water. 

Today I saw more risers than I have in the last few weeks. When you don’t mark fish in open water on the sonar it’s a good bet they are in the shallower water 1-5 feet down. One tip to share is once water temps go below 50, fish will most likely be in shallows as it warms up quicker, especially areas with dark muddy bottoms that attract solar radiation. When that scenario happens, the trout like to be there all day as there is plenty of food, and the comfort level is just right.

I finally got to share this slice of still water heaven with my buddy Chris Maher of Chris Maher Fly Fishing, a top Nor Cal guide who spends his summers guiding at the Baranof Lodge in Alaska, and the winter season at his home in Truckee, Ca. Chris's other passion is observing and hunting ducks. Lake Davis has a huge population of game birds, and I wanted to show him just how rich the lake is with waterfowl. We did a little cast and blast today, but no ducks were harmed, they're just too smart when it comes to jump shooting. The most amazing sight though was seeing an airborne flock of at least a hundred mallards racing across the sky. 

Rain and snow is forecasted for Friday through Saturday, this should help the fishing, but even more important, dress and be prepared for conditions. Good luck out there at Lake Davis, The shorelines are glowing right now with fall color, and so gorgeous, that alone is worth a trip up!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

3 Club Presentation Tour ~ Lake Davis

The first week of November finds myself behind the wheel and heading south, then north, for a 3 club presentation gig sharing the secrets of Lake Davis, Northern California's legendary still water. My award winning Powerpoint presentation goes in depth about the lake's access points, how to approach the different seasons, tactics, techniques, go to flies, and entomology. The audience will gain valuable information that can be used for other still waters across the west. The virtual tour features 140 slides of vivid pictures, diagrams, and maps. Fly anglers across the state absolutely love this program, and it's one you do not want to miss!

The first club I will be presenting to on November 4th is Aguabonita Fly Fishers located in Ridgecrest, Ca. The meetings are free, and the public is welcome to attend. For more information on location and times go here; AFF Meetings

Club number two will be the Kern River Fly Fishers from Bakersfield, Ca on the night of November 5th This club meeting is also free and open to the general public. For more information go here; KRFF Meetings

As I head North on the I-5, my final presentation will be in Livermore, Ca, home of Tri-Valley Fly Fishers on the evening of November 6th. As with the other clubs mentioned above, admission is free and the public is welcomed. For more information go here; TVFF Meetings

I'm looking forward to sharing my vast knowledge on Lake Davis with these three fine clubs, and meeting new fly anglers. Presenting my programs is a real high light for me, they're fun, and so rewarding. If you're near any of these venues I invite you to come out and sit down for an informative evening that will leave you smiling with dreams of still water bliss. See you there!

Photo by Anthony Upton

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/20/14 ~ The Guessing Game Continues

Another week of the unforgettable 2014 autumn at Lake Davis, there are lots of questions by many including myself, with only a few answers. Fishing is just fair, when in reality we should be reaching the peak of the fall grab – which has never even materialized…..yet. There is still hope, and with that I still believe there is going to be a short hot bite to experience. So what’s preventing the historically good fishing the lake is known for in fall? Fish are deeper than normal and staying put in certain areas, I have yet to do a stomach sampling on these trout but Daphnia feeding is high on the list. The resident trout are also at all depths from the very top to the muddy bottom, no matter the depth of the water being looked at. There is also a very low percentage of trout in the skinny water, and fewer rising. No aquatic insect hatches in great quantities except for tiny midges are to be found at all. Trout have also been found in big numbers on the east shore, and other areas that Lake Davis regulars usually do not see them in.

I've ruled out the full moon cycle, angling pressure (which has been light), Low water (I've done much better with a 45% capacity), and water temperatures which are currently at 51-57 degrees. That’s the ugly truth we are facing at the lake. Is there any good in this? Absolutely! A gorgeous lake, stunning fall colors, bird and wildlife sightings that rival any other Lake in Northern California, and the best of times mingling with other die hard still water anglers. There is plenty of food in the lake and a few fish netted have been spitting up, and pooping out snails; a typical sight of Lake Davis trout who gorge on them during this time of year.

The weather has been flat calm one day with little or no wind, and the next blowing 30 mph. Air temperatures have been warmer than normal, of all things I think this is part of the missing link. Some ice and maybe a snow storm could tip things and put the fear of winter into the eyes of those rainbows. If you feared living under an icy tomb in the weeks ahead, I’m sure you would act differently and would want to bulk up for those long winter months ahead, after all, we are all animals. On a more positive note, the fall colors are amazing right now! Not the best I've seen, and this is due in part to last week’s pounding of a 40 mph wind that stripped many trees of their leaves. When the sun is just right and filters through the waning foliage, it truly is a thing of beauty. 

For my guests I can only do so much in the way of the catching. I make up for it by teaching many different styles of presentations, fly selection, rigging methods, comprehension of the lake structure, great stories of trips from the past, and fresh quality lunches from the GraeagleMillworks. They tell me it’s much appreciated, and that makes these past trips on the lake so much more enjoyable for me. 

This past weekend I wrapped up another filming session with none other than the man himself – Ken Hanley of Pacific Extremes. Our latest project entails fly fishing a still water from a boat, where as last year’s project concentrated on my passion of stalking still water trout in the shallows, and making presentations from the bank. The short video should be out in the next month, look for a link to it here on my blog. Ken creates magic through compelling cinematography, and I can hardly wait to see it!

There have been a few flashes of some great fishing like last Saturday when some close friends of mine stumbled upon a large pod of active feeders and got into double digit numbers. For the rest of us that can only hook a few, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud; the fish that are being caught are large, with full girth, and most specimens are clean and so gorgeous. If you plan on heading up there make sure to have two rods, one rigged with a floater where you can fish the upper water column, or use a bobber, and the other with a clear camo Intermediate so you can target depths from 3 to 10 feet. If you want to go any deeper a break away indicator on a floating line would be the way to go as there is no guessing at which depth your flies are being presented. You get to make the call and set the depth you think is right. For fly selection, olive has been the best color, followed by black and burnt orange no matter if you're stripping a bugger or wiggle tail. A closed loop knot is important as it gives your flies so much more action, my catch rates have improved since switching to this knot and I highly recommend it. Snail patterns in brown and olive are starting to produce as well. For bobber rigs, chironomids and mayfly nymphs have been getting the most hook ups, but don't forget about a balanced leech for your bottom fly.

My best advice and one my father taught me is to keep pounding the water with flies and presentations you have confidence in, when you start second guessing yourself, or your equipment, you are doomed! Be positive, have fun, and make the most of it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/15/14 ~ Big Wind & Rain Finally Arrives

Change is in the air with a current system moving through, and the wind cries Mary. Some of the biggest wind I’ve ever experienced on the lake yesterday is really churning things up and after this is all over there should be plenty of food dispersed for those Lake Davis rainbows to dine on. When it blows at 40 you better have a good boat and superior seamanship skills to navigate safely to fish another day. Will this wet weather finally wake up those trout? Only time will tell.

I did see a change in trout behavior over the weekend, and the super pods marked by sonar in deeper water are not as thick; they are on the move again. I also marked more fish in the upper water column than the previous two weeks. The afternoon bite has been better than any other time of the day. With the full moon phase waning feeding times should change back to an all day event. Effective rigs have been an indicator set up targeting depths of 3-5 feet down, and 7-12 feet down. Stripping flies with a floater and an intermediate line is also producing, faster strips with plenty of pauses has been most effective. Many grabs have come just after the cast on the drop as the fly sinks through the water column, so keep a tight leash to your bug. Catch rates have been slim with an average of 3 fish for a full day session by most anglers. Not big numbers yet, but the quality of fish is amazing with rainbows going 18 to 22”, and plenty of beefy girth. Water temps have come back down and are now running 53 to 60 degrees, look for these numbers to drop even more after this storm rolls through.

Gary McLeod ~ Gary McLeod Studio
Hot flies in the last week have included Wiggle Tails in glimmer green olive, and dark olive #10-12, Sheep Creek specials #12-14, Snow Cone midge pupa in black, brown, and red #12-14, and Jay Fair stripping flies in brown, and olive #8 3xl. Angler pressure has been light for this time of year due to recent reports; I did not see one vehicle parked at Jenkins Point over the weekend, which says it all right there. A waiting game continues for the stellar fall fishing Lake Davis is known for, stay tuned to the Lost CoastOutfitters report, or my blog jonbaiocchiflyfishingnews.com, for the latest and most reliable reports.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/8/14 - What's Up?

Odd trout behavior and less than stellar fishing is the current state at Lake Davis. When other guides and long time fly anglers of the lake ask me "What's up with the lake and where are all the fish?", you know something just ain't quite right, especially in October. One day is decent, the next fair. Fish are still scattered, some roaming in large pods at different depths like 7 to 12 feet down, and even deeper, at 16 to 23 feet. I have a feeling that these super pods are dining on daphnia, and why we are not seeing them in shallower water, or other parts of the lake where they should be.There have been a few glimpses of fish working the skinny flats, sporadic at best, and it’s lucky when you find such conditions.

Nights have been cooler with near freezing temps, and the days have been incredibly warm. Water temps have bumped up a bit from 57 to 65 degrees. The fall grab is on idle for now, but at some point it has to happen. As of today, mornings are slow, and the afternoon grab has produced better results; full moon phase is in effect changing the feeding times of those large rainbows. Be prepared to adjust to changing conditions, know your different rigs, and relocate if necessary. 

Depending on the day, slow to fast strips, and plenty of pauses has been good with a floating line targeting the top water column, 1 to 3 feet down in open water and next to the bank. For deeper pods, a type three sinking line with a Jay Fair striping fly in fiery brown is working well. The indicator rig is the old reliable for getting a bent rod, it just produces. Three water columns you should target while making vertical presentations with the bobber are 3-5 ft., 7-12 ft., and the 16-22 ft. zone. The bug scene has been light overall, the small midges are always out in good numbers, but the callibaetis hatch has been very sparse, nothing like the first two weeks of September. Blood midges are a rarity right now on the surface, but it’s a must to carry and fish the pupa stage of this aquatic insect. Backswimmers have been seen crashing the surface of the shallows creating a little commotion, and getting the attention of a few interested trout. Presenting small dark beetle patterns with long leaders makes this game a fun one.

Business meetings are always much more productive when you add a fly rod and some toads in the mix. Lance Gray of Lance Gray & Co. was a guest of mine yesterday and although we had to work really hard to find fish, Lance still landed the biggest rainbows I've seen in the past three weeks. Lance is a really good down to earth kind of guy, we both were raised in the Chico, Ca area and bleed the Powell family legacy. Lance was using a first generation Walton Powell graphite rod that is such slow action most new fly anglers would not even have a clue on how to cast it. I'm looking forward to another successful year working with Lance, our next gigs will be the very popular Lower Yuba River Tours in 2015. For more information, and to sign up go here; http://www.lancegrayandcompany.com/fly_fishing_tours/the_yuba_river_tour

The flies that are working well are about the same as last week’s report with a few exceptions. Wiggle tails in black and dark olive are receiving aggressive takes. Large heavy midge pupa patterns are key to productive indicator rigs; red, black, and brown are best. Bigger flies to #8 3XL like buggers, leeches, and stripping flies are starting to get action, look for these flies to be more productive as we head into November. We’ll see what this upcoming week will bring; you just never know where the fish will be, or when it can turn on. You just want to be there when it does… 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/1/14

Our first real low pressure system and a little precipitation for the north state last weekend have totally changed the behavior of the trout at the lake. A sharp drop in water temperatures has the current numbers at 54-58. Fish are scattered at all depths. Many are suspended in 16 to 22 feet of water, yet some can be found in 2 feet. Water clarity is much better in the south and middle parts of the lake; the fading algae bloom is still present in some areas of the north end. Not every day is producing yet, the fall grab has stalled in my opinion, but conditions will only improve on a weekly basis.

As of today, there are a few players to be challenged by in the shallows, stealth and skill is absolutely key here. I’m seeing more fish cruising in the upper water column later in the day 1 to 3 feet down in 6-12 feet of open water. Fan casting with a floater to 3x stripping a bigger bug, with a callibaetis dropper has been very effective for this situation. Indicator rigs keep on producing with vertical presentations 3- 6 feet down in 6-12 feet of water as well. Fish are large and strong, with some on the hot side. They like to take you into the weeds and try and break you off, so get on them early, and stay in control. The trout’s feeding window is also changing, instead of morning and evening, their pattern now adapts to an all-day event, with periods of intensity.

Bug life has not been so grand with the adult and emerger stages of the callibaetis mayfly, the spinner stage has been sparse too. From my observations there have been very few blood midges, though we could see another brood of them pop. In the skinny water Kirby’s backswimmers are very active and the trout do eat them. There has been a blanket hatch of a size 52 midge in a creamy gray in the mornings; luckily the fish are not keyed in on them.

Go to stripping flies have been Wiggle Tails in brown, rust, and dark olive #12-16. Sheep Creek Specials #12-14, and Mohair Leeches in black, brown, and burnt orange #8-10. For indicators; heavy chironomids like snow cones, and Mahalo midges in brown, wine, red, and purple #12-14 are getting a lot of attention. Also hanging pheasant tail flash back callibaetis nymphs #14-16 is a must right now. Carrying a few size 16 Adams parachutes is a smart move as one never knows if a few bugs will pop up on the surface with some interested trout nearby.

The seasons have changed and planned fishing trips can be altered by snow, and other weather related factors when it comes to Lake Davis, which sits at a 5,700 foot elevation. Be prepared and always dress for that day’s weather. My October dates are booked up, but I do have some open dates after November 10th. All of this greatly depends on ice up. With snow on the ground the launching ramp becomes icy and sketchy. The boat is retired for the season, and trips become walk and wade opportunities. Sometimes we snowshoe into the buckets for those hardy enough endure the trek to productive open water. We’ll have to wait and see what the weather will bring for the future. Whatever it is, just run it, and enjoy the autumn adventure! 

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